And headline writers across the Capital mourn. This one comes under the NSS (No shit Sherlock) heading; a man has been refused a licence to keep two clouded leopards at his home in Peckham. Yes, that's right. Peckham. Although apparently it's really Camberwell, and the posh part too. OK, so that's an even bigger NSS rating then. Anyway, Camberwell, Peckham, The Oval, Dulwich, we don't see the location making much of a difference. Keeping anything that's appeared on a David Attenborough show in a residential area is going to get someone's back up. That's the glory of having neighbours. Most of them can't even deal with a quiet party on a Saturday night with three weeks warning in case it disrupts their own noise.
But we digress. Internet entrepeneur (so they do still exist), Todd Dalston, has had his licence rejected by Southwark council to keep two leopards in specially constructed enclosures in his back garden. We should tell you right now, that is wasn't his suitability that was in question, the enclosures had been approved by the Corporation of London vet, but fears for public safety. Which is fair. We have more than enough to deal with with public transport fare rises, muggers, rapists, drug dealers, gum litterers, peadophiles, terrorists, tourists and the government without having to add marauding carnivores to the agenda.
Mr Dalston, who makes his moolah selling crocodile curries and other delecacies online, was surprisingly upset at the decision. I feel very victimised. It's a very bad area to live in and I wish I hadn't bought here. We used to work in Camberwell and we know what you mean mate. C'mon though. Even though he has 25 years experience keeping exotics, and whatever one feels about keeping rare species he's obviously a respected animal keeper and conservationist, but did he really expect that anyone living in a £600 000 home next door wasn't going to worry about the idea of one of these cuddly fluffy balls of teeth and muscle escaping? Or being released by any number of practical jokers?
Mr Dalston said:
Some people understand that people can do private things in their own home though others may not like it. I choose to have exotic animals. It is unusual in London but I have fully complied with the law.
Quite so, and yay for this great democracy of ours that allows us to do this. But some people also understand, that there's no fucking way anyone's going to want a leopard in their neighbour's garden when little Polly is out playing with her My Little Pony. "Look at the pretty pussy Mummy!" "Grrghhhhhharrghhhh" "Heeeeellllppp, I'm being eaten alive by Mr Jonesy" "Splatter" etc etc.
But we'll leave the last word to Mr Dalston:
For someone who has dedicated most of their life to wildlife it is bizarre to get this kind of crap.
Dude, anyone who's spent most of their lives dedicated to wildlife should be more than familiar with all kinds of crap. Do the sensible and either stick a big sign on your house that says Zoo or move.